Design Engineering and Manufacturing Education for Students at Science Center of Pinellas County

SME Education Foundation has provided a $25,000 grant to the Science Center of Pinellas County Florida for a new Design Engineering and Manufacturing Education Program preparing middle and high school students with opportunities for MSSC Production T

DEARBORN, Mich., ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., March 6, 2012 - In the Tampa Bay area, middle and high school students are being given opportunities for a new career track -advanced manufacturing. The SME Education Foundation has provided a $25,000 grant to the Science Center of Pinellas County, Inc., joining the community's business and industry leaders, in supporting the creation of a new Design Engineering and Manufacturing Education Program.

Facing a continuing shortage of skilled workers, manufacturers have a vested interest in joining with high schools, trade schools, community colleges and universities to develop programs that provide specific skill sets. With the help of local industry, the Science Center of Pinellas County will build a Manufacturing Laboratory (equipment, software, and computers), to ultimately provide students with the MSSC (Manufacturing Skill Standards Council) Production Technician Certification. The Center will also provide training in other related technical skills -such as in 3D SolidWorks software, and virtual welding.

Industry-recognized MSSC Certification decreases recruitment costs, attracts, motivates and retains qualified employees; provides agile workers capable of keeping pace with technological change; increases training return on investment (ROI) by targeting skill gaps benchmarked against national standards, and offers a pipeline of skilled workers by embedding MSSC certification training into technical schools.

The funding underscores the SME Education Foundation's mission to inspire, prepare, and support the next generation of engineers and technologists. Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation says, "We want students to hone their natural talents and abilities for careers in an exciting industry. Business and industry will be there to encourage, mentor and offer apprenticeships when students are ready."

In an October 2011 Deloitte Survey of American Manufacturers, 74 percent reported work-force shortages or skills deficiencies in production positions such as machinists, craft workers and technicians, were keeping them from expanding operations or improving productivity. Eighteen states have grass-roots efforts and strategic partnerships advocating deployment of the Manufacturing Skills Certification System which has been endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

This demand-driven industry Certified Production Technician credential addresses portable production competencies in the areas of: Manufacturing Production and Product Process, Safety; Maintenance Awareness, and Quality and Continuous Improvement. The goal is to provide a link to industry for providing apprenticeships and internships to students as they undergo certification training. Once the credential is received, the student will continue their education and work training in a true partnership with manufacturers.

The Certification Program, beginning with building blocks of Certified Production Technician, will be offered at theScienceCenterin the evenings alongside other offered certification training. During the day students receive foundational education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as well as the application of these STEM foundations. STEM education is the essential basis for skills development in all technical and professional trades. The Center will begin offering manufacturing certification training for students in June 2012, with a goal to complete the Manufacturing Lab by fall 2012.

The Science Center of Pinellas also offers a two-week, technology-based, introductory summer camp where middle and high school students have the "real-world" experience of creating a product start to finish while working alongside designers and engineers. The Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) program includes: Introduction to Design and Manufacturing; Design Process; Sketch Process; Engineering Principles; Rapid Prototyping; Patenting, and Marketing. Students also tour production facilities at a small-scale and large-scale manufacturer.

The second part of the equation will be to link with industry to support the growth and development of these students through an exchange of skills and application training that will align with the needs of industry. Scheduled classes offer Lean to Green manufacturing techniques to give students an appreciation for advanced production strategies.

Similar to the programs available to their students, teachers at the Science Center of Pinellas County will also have the opportunity for training and acquiring instructor certification in Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) at the new Manufacturing Lab. Where applicable,ScienceCenterteachers will be trained as instructors for teacher/professional development; and when Certified Instructors will be required, industry partners will be utilized to provide training.

"We appreciate the support of the Foundation," says Joseph Cuenco, executive director, Science Center of Pinellas County. "Our middle and high school students will be soon be able to develop their individual skills and talents for successful engineering careers so important to this community. We are excited to help build industry capacity for the future needs of our manufacturers and help attract new industry toTampaBay."

About the Science Center of Pinellas County: The Center is a K-12 student educational institution with programs focused on STEM. The Center's seven-acre facility houses experiential facilities consisting of an observatory, a planetarium, marine touch tank, weather station, wetlands, and various labs for cyber security, forensics, chemistry, robotics, energy, petrology, and computers. The present Cyber Security certification program is one of the many programs that support the Center's focus on career skills development for students. The Center is not a supported by taxpayers and depends upon public, corporate, foundations, and certification programs for financial support. Visit

Science Center of Pinellas County Community Partners:
AMETEK, BAMA, Bay News 9/ Brighthouse Networks, City of St. Petersburg, Coordinated Child Care/Juvenile Welfare Board, Eclipse, Kinder Morgan Foundation, FL Manufacturing Extension Partnership (FLMEP), NASA, Pinellas Community Foundation, Progress Energy, Publix, R & R Associates, Raytheon, Raymond James, Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Education Foundation, St. Petersburg College, Tech Data, and the University of South Florida.

About SME Education Foundation: 
The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, preparing and supporting the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists for the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $31 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. Visit Also visit for information on advanced manufacturing careers and, our award-winning Web site for young people.

Media Contact: Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation, (313) 425-3302,; Joseph Cuenco, Executive Director, Science Center of Pinellas County, Inc., (727) 384-0027,


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